The truth about having your children vaccinated

Despite parents' concerns, vaccinations can save lives.
Despite parents' concerns, vaccinations can save lives.

It’s natural to want your children to have a healthy start in life, but conflicting advice has made some decisions more difficult in recent years.

For example, uncertainty about the safety of the MMR vaccination – mumps, measles and rubella – led many parents not to have their children vaccinated.

We now know that links between MMR and a higher risk of autism were based on a study that has since been discredited.

But we are still dealing with the implications, which led to a sharp increase in the number of cases of measles for the first time in generations.

There are an estimated 1.5 million avoidable child deaths each year in countries where there is no vaccination programme for a range of diseases, including smallpox and polio.

In the UK, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to vaccinate our children against a range of potentially serious conditions. But some parents still have ethical concerns.

One of the most recent vaccinations to be made available is the HPV or human papillomavirus vaccination, offered to girls of high-school age.

While the HPV vaccination provides protection against cervical cancer, some people are concerned that HPV encourages promiscuity.

Parents are perfectly entitled to make decisions based on moral and ethical grounds, but there is no doubt that vaccinations save lives.

It is never nice seeing a child suffer the discomfort of an injection and it is true that some vaccinations can lead to side effects.

However, as a doctor I would always urge parents to do whatever they can to protect their children through vaccination.

Speak to your own GP or child health professional if you have any concerns.